Words by Carlie Tucker
If you're looking for the thrill of an international getaway, but don't want to put up with the hassle of all that travel, New Zealand calls. Our Tasman neighbour beckons with a flight time of just over three hours (departing Sydney) along with pristine natural landscapes, adventure and rich cultural heritage – all wrapped up in a luxurious package that caters to your every possible need. So, when it comes time to plan your next holiday, set your sights to New Zealand.
At A Glance:
- Official Language: English
- Currency: New Zealand dollar
- Time Zone: NZST (UTC +12/+13 in summer)
- Flight Time: Departing from Sydney, the flight time to Auckland or Wellington is approximately three hours and 15 minutes
- Required Visas: Australian residents and citizens do not require a visa to travel to Auckland
Home to cosmopolitan capital city Auckland, the North Island caters to those that seek the luxuries of big city living. Rather than being lost in the hustle and bustle of other international destinations, Auckland's laidback sophistication ensures you can scope out every inch at your own pace. Get in some retail therapy at quirky Ponsonby Road; enjoy the views from the heights of the Sky Tower; savour the fine flavours of the Wynard Quarter and finish the night off with a cocktail at the always hip Britomart.
Don't forget, getting out of the city can be just as rewarding, with bountiful natural surrounds insisting on a day trip or two. Island hopping through the Hauraki Gulf could see you sea kayaking and traversing volcanic cones one minute and swirl, sniffing and sipping your way through award winning wineries the next. Follow Bilbo's spirit for adventure in Hobbiton and marvel at the twinkling glow worms of the Waitomo Caves. Or head further north to the Bay of Islands for a cruise of the dramatic coastline and dolphin spotting.
Along with its seemingly endless list of things to see and do comes a equally lengthy list of places to stay. 4- and 5-star luxury spots are plentiful, meaning a stay that suits your style is easily found. If you demand the very best, The Langham, Auckland can't be beat. Or head to Skycity Grand Hotel for a great central spot. Both are 5-star options.
Find out where to eat in Auckland. The Food Lover's Guide To Auckland
Or find the right accommodation. Sarah Nicholson Explores New Zealand's Luxury Lodges
If your travel preferences lean more toward the abounding beauty of nature, the South Island will not disappoint. Made up of dramatic mountain scenery, sprawling wineries and incredible coastlines, this is a veritable playground for nature lovers. And, with some of the world's finest luxury lodges strategically positioned to take full advantage of it all, you can experience it all without sacrificing the creature comforts.
Aspiring gourmands will appreciate the Central Otago, Lake Wanaka and Marlborough regions, each offering up fine wining and dining set against rugged and unspoilt landscapes. Adventure seekers will hit their stride in Queenstown with the likes of bungee jumping, heliskiing, jet boating, rafting, caving and skydiving on offer. And culture cats can escape to Christchurch or Dunedin to explore architecture, museums, galleries and many significant heritage attractions.
When it comes to choosing where to stay, the South Island's cities provide plenty of choice. Top hotels are readily available in locations like Christchurch. This includes the Hotel Montreal, a 5-star option that delights guests with plush rooms and suites as well as an array of amenities. Or enjoy the secluded luxury of a mountain getaway. The Matakauri Lodge is just 45 minutes from Queenstown, pampering guests with just 11 suites overlooking the glacier-carved Lake Wakatipu.